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Sleeping in your own bed
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It took 17 hours to and several flight changes to fly from Hamburg, West Germany all the way to Eugene, Oregon that fateful June day in 1986 — with my three kids in tow, Stevie, age 5, Melissa, age 3 and Jeremy, age 2. There were two tantrums and some meltdowns involved. The kids did so well on that first trans-atlantic flight from Germany to New York City, and we had to rush to catch a plane to Chicago, so there wasn’t time for any nonsense. But then there was a three-hour layover in Chicago, and that’s when Melissa threw herself on the ground in the middle of the airport and refused to walk one more step forward. I had an umbrella stroller for little Jeremy who would take off like greased lightning if I let him out, but none for my three-year-old daughter who was usually soo good and easy. People rushed by and didn’t even notice when my poor little girl, still clutching her small bag of doll dishes, laid on the floor and cried while I attempted to navigate the stroller and carryons and watch Stevie to make sure he didn’t run off into the abyss.

The situation felt so hopeless, and it took lots of coaxing to get her up off the floor, but somehow it happened and we made it to our next flight to Portland, Oregon. But no, m mom didn’t want to pick us up in Portland, Oregon. She said we must fly to Eugene, Oregon because she claimed it was closer to Newport on the Oregon coast, and also a small airport, easy to get around. She probably was right, but there were nod direct flights to Eugene from Chicago, at least not in 1986. The Eugene Airport was way smaller than it is today, though it’s still small.

The breakdowns began on that final flight from Portland, Oregon to Eugene, Oregon after 17 hours of traveling. The kids were so exhausted they began to cry, and I wanted to cry right along with them. I was tired too, hadn’t slept at all in 24 hours. The lady in front of me turned around and asked if I could shut the kids up, keep them quiet. Before I had a chance to answer, a nice stewardess magically showed up and explained to the woman that the kids and I had traveled for over 17 hours and had reached the end of our ropes. Please try to understand.

Wow! Someone noticed me and stuck up for me. That was so nice. I will never forget that woman. When we finally landed in Eugene, Oregon Jeremy and Melissa had both fallen asleep finally, and Stevie was almost there. I had to wake them all up and tell them we made it. we were the last people off that plane (and it would be many years before I flew again after that rather traumatic experience).

The nice stewardess helped me get Jeremy into the umbrella stroller. He was such a sweet, adorable little boy who had just turned two years old with blonde curls that stuck to his head like glue after the long flight. Melissa managed to wake up enough to hang on to the side of the stroller and poor Stevie stumbled along.

Back then, people could still meet you right at the gate, and there were only a couple of gates at the Eugene airport, so I saw my mom and her two lifelong friends Auntie Jann and Bill, whom I’d known since I was a kid. Mom still wore her hair long and she wore a colorful shirt and beads and both Jann and Bill wore bellbottom jeans and tie-dye shirts. I had not seen my mom in over three years, and even before that, we hadn’t seen each other much since 1977 when she moved from San Francisco to Newport. I hadn’t seen Jann and Bill since 1978. So many years. Melissa immediately ran to my mother and yelled, “Gwandma!” My mom picked her up and they acted as if they saw each other every day when actually, Melissa hadn’t seen her since she was five months old. How did she know? We all hugged and Uncle Bill slapped me on the back and said, “One hell of a trip, huh?” Umm…yeah, to say the latest. I attempted to smile but it was pretty weak.

All I wanted was my own bed to sleep in, and a place for the kids to sleep. But it was at least a two-hour drive from the Eugene Airport to Newport, Oregon where my mother lived. We finally settled into my mother’s car. I had never ridden with her before she didn’t have a driver’s license when I was growing up. (to be cont’d)

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